The Baby Who Never Sleeps

Calling for some tried and true mama advice today…I have an eight month old who refuses to sleep. Seriously, she will not sleep. I will admit partial responsibility for this, as I am someone who always has nursed my babies to sleep and subscribed to the “nurse on demand” philosophy with my first daughter, thus creating an expectation that babies do not ever sleep through the night.

But then my good friend Cayce loaned me a book “The Sleep Lady” and I was introduced to the idea that lo, and behold, perhaps some babies do sleep though the night, and maybe, just maybe, they don’t need to eat every three hours!

So I was determined to start off better the second time around with Mya. I would not nurse on demand, I would teach her good sleeping habits from the beginning. Unfortunately, Mya had other ideas. From birth, she fought sleep with every fiber of her little being. Ben and I endured countless sleepless nights, and eventually found a little repose by letting her sleep in her carseat or even, much to my profound shame, her swing. She literally just would not sleep, or even relax. The book talks about ensuring that babies are laid down when they are “still drowsy, but awake” to teach them how to put themselves to sleep. A theory that completely makes sense to me and one I wholeheartedly supported. But there is no such as drowsy with Mya. She is either fully alert and ready to party, or completely exhausted and throwing a temper tantrum.

And so it has continued. I am utterly crushed that I have never been able to snuggle and rock Mya to sleep. With Ada, she would nurse and happily snuggle with me in bed, we could nap together, or rock for hours. Mya will have none of that. She pushes off of me, cranes her heard around, wants to see everything that is going on, is afraid she will miss out one second of fun with her older sister. Ben and my mom have been the only ones who can rock her to sleep. For some reason, with me, she knows she can fight me. It’s devastating. There is nothing I love more than snuggling with a sleeping baby. 

During the day, I sometimes have success with getting Mya to sleep for a nap after nursing her, but a lot of times she has to cry herself to sleep because she will just not relax. I’ve tried the going in and reassuring her thing, but that only fuels her anger, as she now not only suspects I am refusing to pick her up, but seeing me provides confirmation of such indignation.

Last week, I stated an earnest quest to stop the nighttime madness. I was determined to let her learn to put herself to sleep and not feed her at all, especially now as she eating “real” food at meals. And so my friends, she has been up every night for hours at a time. Last night was truly miserable. From 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM wide awake and fighting, awakening her sister, complete and utter anger at me, her mother, for not feeding her. And the silent anger of my husband next to me projecting the thought of “Why don’t you just feed her? 10 minutes and we can all get some sleep” like a dagger at me. And then there is the persistent nagging guilt of wondering if she is genuinely hungry, even if I fed her a mere three hours ago…

Any advice out there for a baby who will not sleep? Do I continue to let her cry it out? Is there a chance that the “reassuring” pat on the back every 20 minutes will not work for every baby, as it only makes her even more upset when I leave?

Help please!

4 responses to “The Baby Who Never Sleeps

  • Clare

    Ahhh, I’ve been there with the first one who goes to sleep quickly and soundly and the second who refuses to go to sleep (and stay asleep!)no matter what I do.I finally had to admit that Becca didn’t sleep good because of what I did- but because she was a good sleeper and most methods will work out for a good sleeper. Lol.
    I found something helpful in the book “The no-cry sleep solution”. It starts with just writing down everything you do with the baby within a half hour to an hour before the baby goes to sleep- for ten days. This is just to figure out what you are doing(what’s not working… so to speak) and then making individual changes to the routine every 3 or 4 days to see what gets a positive response.
    And then there is a list of things that can be changed in the routine like dimming all the house lights 30 minutes before bedtime, changing the time of the last bottle or snack, reading shorter books or longer books, turning the the tv off, or lower, changing the routine of earlier in the day to more activity when it’s lighter out and then to lesser activity as it gets dark(or closer to bedtime), and etc. .
    Basically, its about how the child responds to what happens in the routine(different things will calm different children of course). And how the only way babies and children can tell what time it is- is from the things that happen at certain times throughout the day every day. Hope something helps!

    • Two Tiny Blue Lines

      This is good advice, but I will admit, I am probably too lazy to write stuff down…much like a “food diary” to help me lose weight! I came home yesterday to find my sister snuggling with Mya on the couch after Ada’s swim class. It’s so depressing to know she won’t snuggle with me, or let me rock her to sleep! She must be feeling my stress and anxiety about it all..

      I think you are on to something though Clare, our children will just do what they do no matter, won’t they? We are fooling ourselves, thinking we are in control…;)

      How’s your manuscript coming BTW??

  • Candice Stone

    Oh you poor soul. Here is my advise. I was a nurse on demand mommy too….and still feel that it was the best for Zane. So are you saying she will only fall back asleep when she feeds off you in the middle of the night? Or that doesn’t work either? Because with Zane he didn’t start sleeping through the night until he was 9 months (all of a sudden I may add..) He would wake up 2-3 times a night and I would get him and put him in bed with me..let him feed himself back to sleep and wake up myself to put him back in his crib. I did not think that would ever end and I was at my whitts end; thinking “Shouldn’t he be able to sleep through the night by now? as my other friends with infants were” The other thing we would have to do sometimes to try to teach him to self soothe and put himself to sleep if he woke up in the middle of the night and even to go down for a nap is the …hard…letting him cry it out. Broke my heart the first couple times but then eventually he got the drift. Sometimes the crying it out lasts longer then you want but it does get better. He still wakes up every now and then and I wait for at least 10 min before I go get him and let him fall back asleep in our bed…then put him back in his crib.
    Unfortunely as you know all babies are different and I hope maybe I have given you some advise that you haven’t tried. Maybe; like Zane; it will be a “all of a sudden” realization that she is able to sleep all night. What time do you try to put her down? And what time does she wake up in the morning?
    Another question…how lite is the room? I know if it’s not dark enough Zane still thinks it’s time to play.
    GOOD LUCK HUN!!! I feel for you so much….!!!!!

    • Two Tiny Blue Lines

      Thanks for this advice Candy. She has got a teeny bit better, but I’m not sure if it’s me or just her…They crying it out thing is just not working, and I have developed insomnia now, I’ve been awake, tense and trying to wait it out, that I wake up even when she is sleeping, just anticipating her cry! It helps that you said 9 months was a magic age, because she will be 9 months next week!

      I hope #2 goes smoothly for you!!

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